Culinary Camp Offers Kids a Chance to Live Their Dream

Middle schoolers work with dining services to receive hands-on kitchen training.

Published in FSD C&U Spotlight

By 
Steven Johnson, Associate Editor

While summer vacation for many kids means endless hours in front of a television or computer screen, one group of middle school children recently got the opportunity to live out their culinary dreams. In June, 11 kids took part in a five-day, four-night on-campus culinary camp held by Virginia Tech Dining Services. Those who took part got to learn the basics in cooking techniques, as well as instruction in food and kitchen safety, nutrition, food budgeting and dining etiquette.

Virginia Tech Dining Services Training and Project Coordinator Jessica Filip says the event was an opportunity to teach kids how to make better food choices by showing how easy and fun it can be to prepare their own meals. “Dining Services’ goal was for the participants to learn preparation of food, the joy of cooking and ultimately retain what they learned for a lifetime,” Filip says. “The program was designed for the campers to come away stimulated and confident in using their newfound knowledge and share it with their families.”

Filip says the idea for the camp began when Ted Faulkner, director of Virginia Tech’s Dining Services, suggested the department hold a summertime activity where kids could learn about the culinary arts.

Program participants were taught how to do easy recipes, such as pizzas, ice cream and smoothies, which Filip says would not require special equipment or their parents’ help. Other activities included tours of the school’s local garden and dairy farm, as well as a visit to an area grocery store where chefs taught campers how to select fresh produce and meats.

On the last day of camp, students were able to apply the lessons they learned by catering a luncheon for their parents.

Having received positive feedback about this year’s program, Filip says plans are in the works for similar types of events to be held next year, with the possibility of a day camp as well as one where high school teens can receive more advance culinary training.

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
wage feud business

As plans to increase the minimum wage surge ahead in states such as New York and California, operators eventually will feel the reverberations shake up labor costs for more than just hourly workers. As associate wages gain on manager salaries, operators will have to answer a call for reciprocal increases. FSD spoke with operators who advised going gently into the brave new world of heightened labor costs, investing in talent and making cuts elsewhere; however, they did offer three perfectly proactive tactics to make the process as seamless as possible.

1. Keep talking

Even though...

Menu Development
craft beer flight
A draw for happy hour...

San Francisco restaurateur Charles Phan plans to serve beer and wine, and depending on liquor licensing, perhaps cocktails as well. “For faculty and staff on campus, it will be a really wonderful place to come to and have a glass of wine,” Wolch says. “Right now, we have The Faculty Club bar, which is a very historic spot, but this is going to be much more contemporary.”

And for morning coffee...

Phan’s plan for made-to-order coffee is bound to be a boon for both faculty and students. “We’ll have a brand-new espresso machine,” Phan says. Wolch adds, “Most...

Managing Your Business
wurster west may 2016

At a nearly 150-year-old university, every stone column and classroom has treasured stories to tell. But with that history come the logistical challenges of operating in outdated spaces—especially for foodservice. Such is the case at University of California at Berkeley, where longtime cafe Ramona’s in Wurster Hall closed in March to make way for an updated, as-yet unnamed concept.

With little more than a steam table and coolers, Ramona’s was limited by its lack of ventilation. And, as a former classroom space, it never was intended to function for foodservice, says Jennifer Wolch...

Ideas and Innovation
chicken herbs

We make and broadcast short YouTube videos on TV monitors to educate our customers about cooking techniques, like how to cut up a chicken or what herbs and spices go well together. The monitors also are used to display daily menus, nutritional and allergen information, upcoming foodservice events and local weather forecasts.

FSD Resources